A cat sleeping with their paws over their face is close to the cutest image a person could ask for. And while it’s an adorable pose to walk in on, it begs the question why?
Is there an actual reason that some cats love to cover their faces when they sleep, or is it just another cute quirk of the species. Well, we’re here to tell you there’s definitely a reason behind this madness, though it’s not such a strong reasoning. In fact, it’s more like the reasoning that we all have for covering our faces.
We spoke to our resident experts Yaki, Pima, Yavapai and Naz about this behavior and we got some straight answers from them for once. Yavapai was very vocal about this one as he loves this particular sleeping style.
Common Reasons Your Cat Covers Their Face While Sleeping
If you’re looking for the top reasons to see a cat covering their face, then here they are.
Light In Their Eyes
Just like us, cats are actually sensitive to light. And when they dig in for a deep sleep, those bright lights can be a real detriment. You know, cats need their 20+ hours of beauty sleep every day, so if you can’t dim the lights for them, expect them to cover their eyes so they can get some shut eye.
Cats are also prone to searching for the sunlight. Yavapai is a big offender of this in our house, as he loves catching those rays. But after he’s had his fill he’s both unwilling to leave the new sacred space and unable to get his rest due to the bright lights.
So what’s a cat to do? Cover their eyes. It’s that simple really.
Keep Their Nose Warm
On those days that are quite opposite of sunshine blasting your cats in the face there’s some other reasons you can pin as the cause for your cat covering their face while sleeping. And one of the primary reasons is to keep their little nose warm.
Yes, it sounds basic, but cats' noses are quite wet and they do get cold. Just like dogs, the nose on a cat is a sensitive place, and if you have windows open and brisk air coming in, it might be distracting them or irritating their nose. They are likely to cover their exposed, cold nose with their furry paws in an effort to keep themselves a little warmer.
You can think of it like when we put socks on. Does it help cover our body? No. But keeping our feet warm helps us feel like our whole bodies are warm. If you don’t believe me, ask Pima, he’s a big proponent of this.
Shutting The World Out
This one may be hard for you to believe, but there are actually times where cats don’t want to be bothered. And when those times come, expect their paw to cover their face as a way of saying: “I’m invisible, leave me alone”.
It’s sort of like when an ostrich buries their head in the sand. Your cat is quite literally escaping from the reality that they are in. They are probably hoping to catch a deep sleep and getting annoyed at you constantly coming over to them and annoying them or telling them how beautiful they are.
This one is a trademark for Yaki. He loves attention and when he’s ready for a deep sleep you can expect the paws to cover the face as a sign to us that he is not to be bothered. The “Do Not Disturb” sign has now been hung, see you in a few hours.
The Nictitating Membrane
As a bonus, it’s important to keep in mind that cats have what’s known as a nictitating membrane, or easier to say; a third eyelid. From a practical standpoint, it helps protect their eyes and keeps it wet.
I’m sure you’ve noticed your cat sleeping with their eyes seemingly open sometimes, but that’s just their third eyelid being used instead of their primary.
If your cat is asleep with their eyes open, you can expect them to cover their face as the light coming in is going to just be too intense for them. And it’s a creepy thing to see, but I guess you get used to it after a while.
If you see your adorable cat pressing their face in with their paws while snoring, you can bet it’s either from light, the cold, or a desire to be left alone. And there’s never a set reason for any behavior in a cat, so don’t expect this to be any different. In fact, cats with their paws over their heads has the same amount of reasons as cats that meow. Ultimately, they just do.
So if you see your kitten acting all cute, your best bet is to snap a photo instead of freaking out about the behavior. It’s quite normal, and it’s not likely to go away anytime soon.